Chevron Attempts to Undermine $19 billion judgement made against it by Ecuadorian Court

Oil pollution in Ecuador by Julien Gomba, CC BY-2.0

Chevron is attempting to overturn a $19 billion judgement made against it in 2011 regarding an oil spill in Ecuador. An international arbitration panel has issued a ruling suggesting that the judgement was based on clams that were settled before the case against Chevron was even filed. The case began in 1993, when indigenous Ecuadorean farmers sued Texaco for massive oil spills that destroyed the rainforest in which they lived and had detrimental effects on public health. When Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001 it also inherited the lawsuit and the Ecuadorian court ruled in favor of the indigenous farmers in 2011. Texaco had attempted to enter into a $40 million settlement with the Ecuadorian government in 1995, but the plaintiffs believed the settlement was separate from their own claims and refused to drop the lawsuit. Chevron argues that Texaco's 1995 settlement absolved the company of any liability and requested that the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague look into the matter. The three arbitrators ruled that although the 1995 settlement released Chevron from financial responsibility from "collective damage" claims, the oil company may still be liable for damages incurred by individuals. The next arbitration hearing will take place in January.

Read the panel ruling here.

UK Releases National Action Plan on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

London Parliament on the River Thames by Steve Evans, CC-BY-2.0

On 4 Sept 2013, the UK government released its National Action Plan to Implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The plan aims to "send a clear message of [the UK's] expectation about business behavior, both in the UK and overseas." Although John Ruggie, former UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, describes the Plan as "comprehensive" and believes it "sets the bar for the many others to come", the Plan has come under criticism by various human rights organizations and advocates. Peter Frankental of Amnesty International UK believes the Plan needs to contain "a much more more detailed set of proposals and evidence of implementation" before it can be considered anything beyond "a set of aspirational statements". Similar criticisms were echoed by Gary Boyle of Care International, who described the plan as "very sketchy", and Robert McCorquodale of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, who believes that the Plan "is more about soft 'leverage' by the government to persuade companies than about any effective action."

A list of commentaries and analyses of the Plan is available here.

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New report about the human rights impact of the POSCO-India project

The Price of Steel: Human Rights and Forced Evictions in the POSCO-India Project — has been released by the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) at NYU School of Law and the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) based on a year-long investigation. The Price of Steel finds that India's attempts to forcibly evict thousands of families from their homes to make way for a massive steel plant to be built and operated by the South Korean corporation, POSCO, violate both international and domestic law. ESCR-Net and IHRC call on all relevant actors to take immediate action to fulfill their respective obligations and responsibilities, and ensure that human rights are not violated in connection with the POSCO-India project.

Read the press release (English)
Read the press release (Korean)
Read the executive summary of the report (Korean).